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Port OKs potential real estate deals

YOUNGSTOWN — The Western Reserve Port Authority is attempting to buy a building in downtown Youngstown to house its economic development office and to sell a building near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport that was once hoped to be a military readiness center.

Port authority board members agreed Wednesday to start negotiating to buy the Harshman Building, 101 E. Boardman St., to be used, in part, as office space for the port authority’s economic development activities, led by Anthony Trevena, director of economic development.

About 3,000 of the 14,000-square-foot building would be used for office staff with about 8,000 square feet on the main floor and in the basement available to lease for office and / or retail space, Trevena said.

A deal with the building’s owner, NYO Property Group, which is developing a Double Tree hotel downtown, isn’t final, but Trevena has been authorized to spend up to $675,000 to buy, and then renovate, the property. NYO also owns Penguin Place, the present site of the port authority’s economic development offices.

The market value of the building is $345,520, according to the Mahoning County Auditor’s Office.

“I have not yet started negotiations with the owners. I first needed board approval before I can make a formal offer,” Trevena said. “I’m excited about the possibility of putting this vacant downtown building back into play.”

Trevena said he hopes to close the deal in the next 30 days, and plans on getting the building appraised and inspected.

The board also authorized the sale of its former air cargo building on Ridge Road in Vienna. Port Authority Executive Director John Moliterno said a potential buyer has been found for the $1.2 million building, but no deal has been finalized. Any sale of the property would have to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Moliterno would not provide details about the potential buyer, other than saying its business is not airline-related. But he said “it would be a positive move not only for the port authority, but for the Vienna community.”

The air taxi apron that was part of the air cargo facility would not be part of the sale, Moliterno said.

“We still own land north and south of the apron where we can expand,” he said.

Plans last year to transform the building into a military readiness center fell through. The proposal caused Trumbull County commissioners in August 2016 to funnel more of the 5 percent bed tax proceeds the county receives to the port authority to support the project. However, commissioners walked back the decision in March when plans for the readiness center were put on the shelf.

The 5 percent is divided 3 percent to the port authority and 2 percent to the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau. The move last year gave the port authority 0.5 percent more.

In other action, the board authorized paying legal counsel up to $2,500 per day to represent it at an October arbitration hearing dealing with its lawsuit against Aerodynamics Inc., which ceased daily air service to Chicago at the airport last summer.

Copyright: The Tribune Chronicle, August 24, 2017, By Guy Vogrin